Kevin Hunt is a Microbiology Analyst at the Marine Institute in Galway. He is also undertaking a research Masters at University College Dublin, investigating how the risk of viral contamination is assessed in commercial shellfish.

The safefood Training & Mobility Programme funded him to attend a four-day workshop on predictive modelling in food microbiology at the Polytechnic Institute of Braganca in Portugal in September 2014.

The workshop’s aim was to show how mathematical models are used to predict the reaction of food-related pathogens to changes in the environment, something Kevin found highly relevant.

“These models could describe how bacteria or other microorganisms respond to different stimuli and different conditions within food, which is crucial to understanding the risk of contamination,” he said.

“They were teaching a set of tools or methods with a wide variety of applications. They are quite powerful once you know what you’re doing with them. That’s exactly why I went to the workshop – to find out how to use them.” 

The workshop involved theoretical lectures and practical sessions that tackled real implementations of the theory, using the statistical language R. It also included lectures by Dr Vijay Juneja, a lead scientist with the US Department of Agriculture, on how these models are used in everyday agriculture and food science.

The notes and problem sets provided were comprehensive, said Kevin, and what he learned while in Portugal will prove useful to the Marine Institute in keeping up with advances in microbiological risk assessment. It has also helped his own research and should bring him closer to publication of data, he says. He also expects to stay in touch with the academic instructors.

Kevin also found it beneficial to meet people from other disciplines. “There was a wide range of people present from multinational manufacturing companies or food companies and from other academic backgrounds. It was nice to be able to talk to people about the questions I was trying to answer in my own research.”

“I found the Training & Mobility Programme very useful and the application process straightforward. It was a very positive experience I would absolutely recommend to other people.”

Learn more about the Training & Mobility programme at

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